Can We Have A Dedicated Menu Button, Please?

Before Android 3.0 Honeycomb, all Android devices had a dedicated Menu button.  Since the introduction of Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, we have 3 onscreen buttons, Back, Home & Recent. This change has brought about lots of benefits to Android devices:

  1. Onscreen buttons are a lot more responsive.
  2. Developers can change what they do with them.
  3. Immersive for apps which require it, such as YouTube.
  4. The bezels can be made much smaller, such as the Nexus 6.
  5. Ease of launching Google Now, in most devices.
  6. Not accidentally waking up the screen by pressing the physical button.
  7. Easier to see. Physical button keys are not always backlit, especially low spec phones.


Android 4.4 KitKat (above) and Android 5.0 Lollipop (below) - soft key redesign will split opinions, especially the reduced size

Android 5.0 (Lollipop) brings Play Station inspired new soft keys. Android evolved pretty fast. It combines visuals and substance into a methodology with the potential to influence the future design of every Google operating system going forward – both desktop and mobile, but did Android get it all right? What happened to the “Menu” button?  A menu button, to get the menu of whatever app you’re in, or home screen, or browser, or anything.  It’s a completely normal and helpful part of Android phones.


This is an example of Android Menu button; Google’s idea of surfacing options from deep, dark sub-menus with the Action bar is a good one, and it works most of the time, but eradicating a button as important as Menu from the bottom and placing it in inconsistent places in different apps is definitely troublesome. A universal Menu button solves all that, flexibility is one of the strongest suits of Android and we can only hope that Google reflect on that going forward.

Reference : Forbes Image source: StockExchange Andoid




No comments.

  • irononreverse

    Having the menu button exist within the apps is better. If they have a menu system, it’ll show you.

    No more blindly pressing the android menu button and having nothing happen or having a redundant exit app option.

    • Tanim

      The issue would be different apps will have the menu button in different places, in different shapes and in different sub-menus even.

      It’s not only the apps, but also in other scenarios such as at the main screen a menu button will make more sense instead of press and hold to bring the widget/app/screensaver/wallpaper etc imho.

      For advance Android users it may sound like a step backwards, but my thinking was in favour of everyone else.

      Blinding pressing a button could actually be a lot worse than ending up with menu button by the way 😉

      • irononreverse

        Pretty much all apps have the menu button in the same place now, if they’re following the guidelines. Having a menu pop up in the bottom right doesn’t work any more.

        Press and hold is understood by practically everyone. Even iphone users.

        Basically, the menu button in the navbar was out of place and made the place look cluttered

  • Darrell Jones

    Congratulations on our 100th article Tanim

    • Tanim

      Thank you, kind Sir!

  • MightyPi

    Oneplus One has a dedicated set of nav buttons that I’ve grown to prefer. Aside from the centre and right obvious ones, the left is the menu button and a long press gives you the recent apps screen. For me I prefer quicker access to settings over recents and the simple symetrical three options.

    • mhatti3000

      I agree, this is a perfect setup. Everyone is happy that way.

    • Tanim

      Interesting, most definitely a much nicer way than Stock Android I have to say. Some say Cyanogenmod is a bit buggy but I would rather hear from you as a daily user.

      • MightyPi

        Cyanogenmod definitiely isn’t always the most stable (depending on the build) but then no OS is perfect. The one niggle people might find is the position of the back arrow. However you can turn off these capacitive buttons and create on screen ones at a sacrifice of screen space. That then opens up the ability to have up to four options in any order plus a settings option like you suggest on either side. Basically Cyanogen has given you the tools to pick yourself. As others have mentioned, it’s then up to the Dev’s to make their apps work in accordance with standards.

        • Tanim

          By the sounds of it I could only imagine this is the most flexible version of Android out there. The option to use one of the another is just perfect and something Google should have adopted to begin with!